I’m not surprised One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels was my most played album of 2019. Conor Oberst is extremely talented, and Bright Eyes is one of my favorite musical acts. What does surprise me is I’m pretty sure I replayed Neva Dinova’s songs more than Conor’s. Neva Dinova is a band based out of Omaha, Nebraska (same as Conor), and even though they can’t turn a phrase quite like Conor, they more than hold their own on the album.
One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels is good folk music made better by supplemental instruments (saxophone, trumpet, keys) and a small-town issues sort of vibe. The songs cover the usual subjects of depression, looking for love, cocaine, and hanging onto someone who’s clearly looking for an escape route. I can’t say I’ve really connected with the songs emotionally, and I wouldn’t rank any of the Bright Eyes songs among Conor’s best creations. But Conor has gone on record saying being in studio with Neva Dinova has been his favorite album recording experience. That must shine through on the album, because I just like hanging out with the songs. I don’t get tired of Neva Dinova sympathizing with a bar patron (“You just want someone’s love to take you down”) or asking what the fuck is the point of destroying yourself.
Remember when I said Neva Dinova still has something to learn from Conor about lyrics writing? I’ll end by quoting one of my favorite parts of the album with imagery that only Bright Eyes could bring to life:
“And you talk when you’re drunk
Like you’re standing in front of a microphone.
And each night it repeats, and you fall into me
Like a domino.
And you talk when you’re drunk
Like you’re writing it up for an article.
And you think that I lie when I tell you, ‘Goodbye,
And I’ve got to go,’
‘Cause I’ve got to go…”